Here is where you start. We have found that there are seven basic ingredients to building a strong and effective ministry of support and encouragement:
1. A Burden
Most people want someone else to start a Support Group. They feel inadequate and unqualified. But what really is necessary to be effective in helping and encouraging those who are facing HIV is someone who cares. If you care and want to help, you are probably the one to start the support group.
Without going to the Lord with this burden, you will go nowhere. So start with asking Him for help, wisdom, and insight. There are often numerous secular support groups in your area. But yours will be different. You offer your heart. Start and end each session with prayer. And ask your local churches to be praying as well.
3. Your Pastor
If your pastor believes in what you are doing you’ll find that your church will be with you as well. And pastors have ways of communicating to other pastors what you are doing, as well.
The confidentiality of those who participate needs to be of top priority both legally and spiritually. Only those who are HIV+ should reveal their health status to someone else.
5. Group Size
Understand that you will often have just 1, 2, or 3 people. Sometimes no one shows. That’s okay. No matter who comes, be there to listen. Let your local newspaper know what you are doing. Ask your local radio stations to do a public service announcement. And make sure you meet in a room that is comfortable, accessible, and quiet.
6. The Right Meeting Time
Some groups meet once a week or twice a month. Some may want to meet just once a month. Many who are HIV+ still hold jobs so schedule your times conveniently for them, as well. And don’t choose a time that is in conflict with Bible Studies and ministry meetings at local churches.
7. A Purpose
Some groups are just for those who are HIV+. Other groups are for those HIV+ and their families. Rarely is anyone invited beyond that without the permission of the entire group. Focus on the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. The purpose of your Support Group is not to get new church members although some who have no church affiliation will want to attend a church like yours that is so open to those affected by HIV. Stay away from divisive doctrinal issues. Pray a lot and remember to laugh along the way. Joy should be a part of your group.
These are some helpful steps to a good Support Group for those affected by HIV/AIDS. You do not need a degree from a college. You do need a heart that is open to the Spirit of God, a sense of leadership for keeping this group pointed in the right direction, and an understanding that you are offering something that most other support organizations cannot offer hope in Jesus Christ.
If you are interested in starting a Support Group and would like to be a Chapter of He Intends Victory in your area, please click here. We at He Intends Victory will provide literature, phone support, prayer, and encouragement. We’d love to work with you in helping others.